When Does FAFSA Open?

If you are looking to receive financial aid, or even simply the Federal Direct Student Loan or a Federal Parent PLUS Loan, you will need to fill out the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA). We recommend to our students and families that they complete the form as soon as it becomes available. Each year the FAFSA opens on October 1st.

What Is the FAFSA

The FAFSA is the financial aid form for the federal government and for most institutions. The information you submit on the form is used by the government and some institutions to determine whether or not the student qualifies for financial assistance to attend college. While filling out the form is not a requirement, it is necessary in order to obtain potential aid and the Federal Direct Student Loan.

Do All Colleges Use the FAFSA?

Most institutions use the FAFSA to base their decision on whether you qualify for financial aid and, if so, how much as it relates to that specific school. Some schools require the student to complete the CSS profile. This is another financial aid form. It is much more in depth than the FAFSA. About 300 schools require students to complete the CSS profile in order for them to assess whether a student will qualify for financial aid at their institution. Additionally, there are some schools that have supplemental financial aid forms in addition to the FAFSA and the CSS profile. It’s very important to understand what forms are required by each school.

When the FAFSA and CSS Profile Become Available

Both the FAFSA and the CSS open on October 1st of the fall before the student will be attending college. So if you are going to enter college in the fall of 2023, you can start completing these forms starting October 1st of 2022.

Do You Need to Complete the FAFSA Every Year?

For 99% of schools, you will need to apply for financial aid every year because income may change. So, in order to receive aid, you will need to complete the FAFSA every year.

FAFSA Deadlines

It is very important to pay attention to the FAFSA deadline. The FAFSA form must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on June 30th for the academic year you are entering college. This is the federal government deadline. Any corrections or updates to the FAFSA must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 14th. So if you plan on entering college in September 2023, and you would like financial aid for the upcoming academic year, you must complete the FAFSA by June 30, 2023, and submit any corrections by September 14, 2023. BUT colleges will require that you submit the FAFSA prior to those dates in order to be eligible for their institutional financial aid. It is very important that you check the deadlines for the schools to which you are applying and the school to which you will be attending. The deadlines are different for every college and can be different based on the way you apply. If you are applying to a school Early Decision, often those financial aid deadlines are much earlier than if you were applying Regular Decision. For example, in that situation, the deadline for submitting the financial aid form could very well be November 1st or November 15th. The deadlines vary by school and by type of application, so it’s important to note those dates, which you can find on the schools’ websites.

What If I Fill Out the FAFSA After the Deadline
If you submit the FAFSA after the deadline, even if you qualify for financial aid, you may get nothing. The money is not infinite. There is a set amount of money in the financial aid bucket and once it’s gone it’s gone.

File the FAFSA as Early as Possible

It’s really important to understand everything that surrounds financial aid. We know it can be a very complex topic, but the one thing we can’t stress enough is submitting the FAFSA as early as possible – even October 1st if you can.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.